I am very lucky to be going to a ball next month because, like the Fairy Godmother, I love an excuse to make a ball gown and have been enjoying rustling around the house in it.
I had a look through a Google image search for 'ball gown' and decided that I wanted to use some sort of chiffon. To eBay! I found the most gorgeous chiffon that was nearly clear and had roses printed on it with some 3D roses sewn on. It was either going to be simply amazing or ghastlily tacky. I had to have it!
At first I was set on a floor length maxi dress with empire line, although in the end, it was lucky that I didn't choose that as the fabric came in precut 1m lengths, which was terribly annoying and means I have more seams than I would like. But after thinking more carefully, I settled on a 50s style gown. The skirt is full circle with fake silk dupion underneath a layer of the lovely chiffon. There is a silk(ish) bodice that makes the dress look strapless and then just a chiffon layer over the shoulders and collar. I though about adding sleeves but decided against it in the end.
I draughted the circle skirt, but needed slightly different patterns for the chiffon than the silk as I could cut the silk on the fold in two halve but had to do quarters for the chiffon, meaning there is an annoying centre front seam (GAHHHHHH!).
To make the bodice, I adapted the Famous Frocks Grace Kelly Dress, lengthening the bodice by 1" to bring it closer to the waist and also adding a few mm as I have just been on an all inclusive holiday and am slightly larger than I normally am. This will also allow more movement for dancing.
I couldn't decide whether to go for pale green or pale pink for the silk, either would have worked, but in the end I went for full princess pink. The theme for the ball is 'fairy tale' so I don't think it's OTT.
The chiffon was quite difficult to sew, not just because it was slippery but also because I used plastic invisible thread, which looks beautiful but is very friction-full. Even at a very low thread tension, it puts a lots of pressure on the needle, bending it out of shape. I went through 4 needles this project! But the results are worth it.
I finished it off with an incredibly full net petticoat that I purchased, rather than made because it's just not time economical to mess around gathering all that net!
I'm pretty pleased with the finished result!
I saw a dress on Crafster that had been made using a pattern site called Lekala that makes custom print-out patterns. This seemed too good to be true so I thought I should test it. I found this awesome military dress on the site, put in my measurements and printed it.
You have the option to pay $1 extra for seam allowances; as that was another 25% on the price I decided not to do that and that was not the correct decision: you already want to retrace the pattern once you've printed it and stuck it together adding seam allowances is a bit of a faff.
I was worried that the pattern wouldn't fit and while I was making it, it felt a little small; so I unpicked it and made the seams smaller only to have to put them all back in because it fit perfectly! I did have to take some of the seams in but only because I have a long waist and short body and I'd have to do that anyway. I'll certainly be using the site again so that I don't have to worry too much about editing pattern pieces!
The dress is made from 3m of navy linen garbedine mix so it's quite thick and sturdy. It has a large lapel, a side zip, belt and 10 pretend buttons on the front. I decided to choose some RAF gold buttons but they do stick out a little so using flatter buttons might be better next time.
I was given a fantastic Christmas present of an assortment of exciting thread and buttons so I used some of it to edge stitch the lapels in gold and make them look a little more snazzy.
The epilets are also quite snazzy...
It's held together by a bright gold zipper and an inside button. I've added a couple of inches to the dress and to the facing so that it can be walked in without flapping open.
Overall, a good experiment! The site, in this statistically significant sample of one, produces patterns of the size required. The dress itself is smart and fun.
You rip what you sew!